Planning for Trixie’s first great Westward Expedition began sometime in October 2012, when Mum said she would like to see Mount Rushmore. With that in mind, Pops began exploring the routes to drive there across the country so we could see as much as possible, and avoid the ever-increasing problems with air travel.
With that in mind, the basic route was set, followed by adding in sights to see along the way. There was our cousin in Bridgeport, Connecticut of course, a dear relation who we don’t see enough of. Abraham Lincoln’s home and library in Springfield, Illinois came up as a stop, along with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And Walnut Grove, Minnesota, which claimed to have a museum dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As the plans grew, so did the scope of our destinations. Yellowstone National Park was a day’s drive away from Rushmore, so that entered the mix. And Bryce Canyon was on Mum’s to-see list somewhere in there. Keeping driving in mind, we got a new red 2012 Toyota Camry SE Limited Edition in November, a wonderful driving car that was supposed to get 30 miles to the gallon or better, and had a built-in GPS and satellite radio, both of which were relatively new options at the time.
Ultimately, it was Pops’ bad luck that gave us the good fortune to have the time to do this trip. The company he worked for laid him off as business dropped off unexpectedly, and the economy was not kind to unemployed job seekers looking for something better than work at a fast food place.
So we decided to go all out with our trip in June, making the best of a bad situation. More stops were added to the trek, which grew out to twenty-three days in all.
There were problems in planning of course. Zion National Park was on our list of stops in the original plan, but there were no hotels available there, and the hotel at Bryce was unable to let us stay a second night. As a result, a day was added in Yellowstone – a good thing too, since the park is huge! Tornadoes also struck in Kansas at the time near where we would drive, so we altered our course north into Nebraska, bypassing the Truman and Eisenhower sites we planned to see in Missouri and Kansas.
But in the end, if you cannot handle problems like this, you may as well stay home.
And other than exhaustion, road construction and poor weather towards the end of the trek, it was a trip we will never forget.